A Darker Shade of Magic book discussion

Book Discussion : A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Week 4)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Welcome to the A Darker Shade of Magic book discussion! We are going to have a blast reading along together. Each week, following the schedule, my friend Jackie and I will recap that particular week’s chapters with hilarious commentary. At the end of each discussion post, there will be a few questions to get the party started. These questions serve as food for thought. All comments related to the book and this week’s chapters are always welcome! Remember: I am giving away a copy of the paperback edition of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (for extra entries, comment below)! Now, let’s get this party started!

This week, we'll be discussing Part 4, Chapters 3 to 5 and Part 5, Chapters 1 to 4. To depict our thoughts in the most coherent way possible (after all, this is a dialogue between friends), my font color will stay black and Jackie's color will be red.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead! This post discusses this week’s chapters of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. If you do not want to be spoiled on what happens in the book, don’t read any further.

Part 4: Chapter 3

Jeanna: Readers get to meet Athos in this chapter. And we knew that the twin rulers were bad news but this crossed the line of bad news a long time ago- we’re more into the worst territory. While taking a stroll through the town of White London, a boy decides not to bow to the rulers. And that’s a big no no, since the whole town is built on fear. Naturally, Athos takes the boy from his mother and makes an example of him, turning him into one of his robots via binding spell. Holland interrupts Athos to let him know of Kell’s arrival. And that’s basically the gist of what happens in this chapter.

One of the most terrifying moment of the whole chapter was when Athos throws a bit of coin to Beloc’s mother and nonchalantly says, “For your loss.” I had to put the book down for a while after that one. Like, nope. No, no. I couldn’t handle it. The scene was just so visual and if this ever becomes a movie, they better have this whole chapter in it because these rulers are downright horrible. What do you think, Jackie?

Jackie: Yeah, I mean I thought that line was so powerful in this chapter. I stopped for a minute too and was thinking of the power behind this statement. 

I was thinking of this image as well in like slow-motion. I was thinking about how Athos had stopped for a few measly seconds to say that line to Beloc’s mother. A few things ran through my mind:

  • This signifies the “death” of the son she once had.
  • This signifies the lack of empathy that the twins are capable of and show to their citizens of White London.
 I mean no wonder we have heard the statement about White London, White London “hungers.”
Thinking about this, I thought of how White London hungers for justice and righteousness as well. After Athos takes the mother’s son as his slave (pretty much anyway) all he does is throw a coin to the mother and says “For your loss.” This suits the characterization that we have been told about the White London rulers, but this action is so heartless. I mean Athos shows no remorse, not really any sympathy either. I mean this seemed like a business transaction to me more than anything. It’s just so disgustingly, heart-wrenchingly void of any emotion at all. On top of all this, these actions sound like these occurrences happen all the time in White London. I mean, I’m usually one for villains and such, but I draw the line at Athos’ actions and insensitive action. This chapter was honestly crazy and hard to complete reading in one sitting. 

Jeanna: I know what you’re saying. I couldn’t complete it in one sitting. I stopped at the coin toss and just had to go do something else because at that point, you knew something bad was about to happen and it was definitely not going to be pretty.

I agree with you on what the coin exactly symbolizes. Also, I don’t think the mother will ever see Beloc again. I’m thinking that Athos will keep him as his slave, like you said.

It’s interesting to see Beloc and Holland together at the end of the chapter. I started noticing all the similarities the two have. And I’m guessing that Holland had endured the same binding process that Beloc goes through, how he is bound by body but not his mind. It makes me wonder how much of Holland we are really seeing. Is he fighting their control on him? Sometimes, I think he may be fighting but others, he seems so devoid of emotion that it is hard to tell.

Holland interrupts Athos’s torture session to let him know that Kell has arrived. Since we know how much Kell was against seeing both rulers together, I couldn’t help but feel a little betrayed by this. However, Holland is bound and may be required to tell both rulers of any guests that have arrived, so better to ambush them.

We found out a chapter or two ago that what binds Holland to the rulers may be a pendant that Holland is always seen with on. However, the process seems different for Beloc, so was the pendant just a rumor- is he or isn’t he bound? I’m just so confused.

Jackie: I noticed the similarities between Beloc and Holland as well. I’m also a bit confused about whether Holland is fully bound to them in the way of having a rune on his body somewhere or just being bound in another way. I mean, Kell mentions that he sees a flicker of emotion on Holland’s face for just a second, which I thought suggested that maybe Holland isn’t fully bound to the White London rulers. 

As you said, it makes it hard to tell because Holland seems so void of any emotions, but I think that instance of emotion that Kell said he saw shows that Holland has some type of humanity and/or emotion left in him, somewhere in him. 

Something else that suggests to me that maybe he feels some type of emotion is when Athos says, “No one suffers as beautifully as you.” This suggests to me that the White London rulers can sense and see what little emotional triggers Holland shows, and they use it to their advantage as well as enjoying Holland’s misery and suffering. I may be mistaken, but these people seem like that type that would feed off of other people’s suffering.

Jane The Virgin Suffering GIF

Jeanna: I really don’t like Athos. It seems he is in tuned to their emotions by their eyes, as he mentions seeing the fight in Beloc’s eyes as he binds him. And White London as a whole seems to be based off suffering - if you fight back, the rulers will make you disappear.

And I would love to see the twin rulers turn themselves around, turn good instead, but I really don’t think that’s what’s going to happen here.

Part 4: Chapter 4

Athos and Holland join Kell and Astrid just as Kell is giving him her message. And can you believe it? It’s not a shock but… they don’t read the letter here either. What is with this? When I get mail, all I want to do is open it right away.

When Athos asks Kell to stay for a drink, it isn’t like he can say no. At this point, Athos would probably cut off a limb or who knows what other horrible things if Kell had refused. And another not surprising thing because it totally fits into their horrible-ness, Athos and Astrid drink blood. And not just any blood, they order Holland to bleed for them right at the table. They do this to probably show Holland who’s in charge. Like we mentioned in the last chapter, Holland does have moments where he’s not okay with this, there’s still some fight. But in the next second, it’s extinguished. Them drinking the blood of their Antari is a power play over him, to show him, there’s not a chance he’s going to win against them. Oh, also in this chapter, they get Kell drunk. And I wonder what kind of secrets he spilled while intoxicated.

Jackie: Yeah I wish they’d open the letters to let us readers know what is going on...but I guess we are just citizens in the eyes of the Athos and Astrid and do not need to know. 

Anyway, I’m okay with Kell just accepting to have a drink with them instead of facing certain doom if he denied their request. I think it’s just easier this way for Kell, and I think he has come to realize this over time as well. I thought it was dehumanizing to have Holland give his blood to Astrid and Athos to drink. I mean, I get that they are showing their dominance over all others, but this was continuing to cross many lines that need not be crossed. I was thinking for a few moments that they may have Kell do the same thing and give his blood to them, but I’m glad they didn’t have him do that. Mixing blood would be gross. I mean to me, even drinking blood is gross. 

catching breath caroline GIF

I was wondering in this scene if the Antari gain strength when they drink blood. Since they have control over blood, hence them being Antari, if drinking blood gives them extra power as well. I’m not really too sure if it does, but if one thing is for sure, they certainly know how to humiliate Holland and all other people by whatever means necessary. I  believe that Athos and Astrid were also showing Kell that if Kell stepped out of line with them, that they were not afraid to have Kell do the same thing as Holland was doing. I don’t want to be in White London any longer. This place is wack. 

Jeanna: I agree, please get us out of here. This whole scene is just disgusting. And I’m so glad that Kell had enough in him to refuse the blood and stick to wine instead.

I don’t think they would have bled Kell at all. Holland is basically a slave in the palace, an asset, a power piece.  Kell belongs to Red London. In harming Kell in any way, I think Red London would have something to say about that. And it could possibly mean war, or at least a strong dispute.

It’s interesting that Kell thought of standing up for Holland, after the fact-but still. They are the only two remaining of their kind and I think it’s right in thinking that they should stick together. It would be awesome if Holland and Kell were friends, if they met for tea every once in a while or something. However, Kell mentions how unlucky Holland was to land himself in White London. I wonder how this happened. Did Holland choose to find his own way in White London or did the rulers steal him away? For Kell, it seems that Red London has always been his home. However, since he was Antari, his family gave him up for him to go live in the palace. I really wonder what Holland’s backstory is like.

Jackie: Yes, I’m wondering too where Holland has come from and how he ended up in White London and Kell ended up in Red London. I wonder if this connects to the missing pieces from Kell’s memory. I mean this keeps being mentioned and Kell does not give the reader much insight into his own past and how he remembers ending up in Red London and in the palace. Maybe, from whatever it was that happened, Holland and Kell were separated and told to serve their respective rulers in the London they were placed in. This would make sense too that these were the only two London locales with Antari there since Black London, as we understand, is pretty much decimated, and in Grey London, there is no want for magic to be present, especially among the rulers and royalty. I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that maybe whatever that incident was a long time ago, that it caused Holland and Kell to be separated among the two London locations to assist the rulers at both locations since magic is still present in both spots. 

On a separate note, I thought it was funny that Kell said to Astrid and Athos that he found it impressive that they kept their clothes so white, as they were drinking blood. I found this line Kell says to be ironic since these two rulers are the most bloodthirsty characters we have met thus far (in my opinion), and the fact that they wear white clothing as they have these awful tasks performed by Holland, or as they perform acts onto others, that they wear white clothing. The color white is a symbolization, in most cases, of purity and peace, which is the complete opposite of these two rulers and their actions.

Jeanna: Can you imagine the two rulers giving Kell an instruction guide on how to get blood stains out of white clothing? That would be hilarious.

The symbol of white is incredibly prominent here - it’s even called White London. But it’s a complete lie, maybe to lure people to their cause under false pretenses.

Part 4: Chapter 5

Kell has had a little too much wine. Instead of returning straight home, which is what we all know he should have done, he makes his way to the Scorched Bone. And after convincing himself that he is going to follow Rhy’s advice and not do anymore deals, he walks right into one. The woman convinces him to pass a letter to a family member in Red London and as payment, she gives him a magic item- that we have no clue about still.

I thought this was fishy from the beginning. Black London fell ages ago, closing the doorways between London so it’s not like she logged on to ancestry.com to figure out her family. I thought her background was way too suspicious not to question and Kell doesn’t seem to see the flaw in it. This whole chapter, I was just shaking my head. How could you, Kell? We’ve learned a lesson here, folks. Don’t do deals when you’re under the influence.

drunk ross geller GIF

Jackie: Yup, I was thinking the same thing. I mean, like this reminds me of what Rhy said to him before he left about not getting caught up in dealings like this, but nope, Kell just gets sucked right in. Especially with Kell trying to look at the note, but the woman tells him to not look at the note, that should have been a big red flag, but not for our Drunk Kell. Nope, why not go and deliver something to Red London from White London, which from what Kell himself told the reader, that this place was just not a place to go to or be at, EVER. 

I just facepalmed all throughout this chapter, even as intoxicated as he was, he should have seen something coming that was telling him, “no don’t do this one Kell.” I don’t know Kell, I lost a bit of my confidence in you after you pulled this stunt.

Jeanna: Yeah, because as soon as he lands himself in Red London, this whole thing bites him in the butt.

Part 5: Chapter 1

And we now interrupt normal programming to bring you back to Lila, the thief who wants nothing more than to be a pirate.

Almost all the chapters we’ve read this week were so short.

Lila Bard is coming back to the Stone’s Throw tavern after a long night of pick-pocketing when she sees a homeless kid. She decides to share some of the loot with him and gives him some of her coins. In greeting Barron, both Barron and Lila watch on as three thugs steal the coins from the homeless boy. Lila decides to get the money back. And I’m all for that- those boys have no right to steal from that homeless boy. What Lila does, in pickpocketing, is wrong of course. However, she seems like a Robin Hood character, but these bullies are stealing from those weaker than them and that’s not cool.
Also, not only do we find out that she steals coins from the pockets of the rich, and the occasional watch or so but she’s an all-around book thief. She makes sure to find books that have pirates and adventures in them so with that, I made a list of book recommendations that Lila Bard should look for next to she’s out stealing books.

Jackie: Yeah, these chapters were short, but each was filled with a chunk of information to let us get to know the characters a bit better, like us learning about Lila’s interest in stealing and reading books. I like the book recommendation list that you came up with as well, it sounds interesting and fun to read for an aspiring pirate. 

I thought that it was interesting to see Lila in this light, of someone who does show her pirate characteristics, but also has a sense of dignity for her fellow man. She stops to give the boy some coin, and after it is stolen from him, she chases after the thieves to get the coin back for the boy. I thought that this act was interesting for her since it shows that she not only has compassion for others as well as the motivation and determination to do what is just and right. I thought of her as a Robin Hood character as well, and it suits her well since she also acts like a man anyway, so she could be called Robin Hood instead of Shadow Thief, maybe someone should get on that to change her name…

confused robin hood men in tights GIF

Jeanna: Changing her name would take so much work. Imagine all the WANTED papers they’d have to redo.

Part 5: Chapter 2 - 4

Since all these chapters were a bit short, I thought I’d cluster them together. Not just because they’re short, mind you. They all end entirely the same way. Kell or Lila are running for their lives. This may just be an accident. Maybe Schwab likes ending on a high-energy note, or it could be an element that is meant to be noted- either way, the parallelism between these chapters were too difficult to ignore.
Kell is, obviously, set up. We all saw that one coming. He opens the letter- which is interesting because none of the other characters have opened their letters but Kell is the only one with letter-opening skills it seems (remember, he opened the Gray London’s King’s letter). And the letter is blank. Total set up. He gets to the address that the woman told him and there’s someone there ready to jump him.

In other news, Lila is also set up. See the similarities here. She waits for those thugs to break off and decides to follow the one boy she saw with the coins. She follows him down an alley and bam! The two doubled back and followed her. A fight ensues.

Meanwhile, Kell runs to the tavern where he keeps his collection and deems it safe to hide in there since he has warding spells on the place. Facepalm, again. Kell is not thinking straight. If he had stopped for a moment, he would have realized how odd it was that the mysterious attacker knew he was going to go straight to the address. I wonder if he had went back to the palace, would they have attacked him there? He finds the tracking spell, which sure enough, renders his warding spell against his collection room useless. He is able to jump out of the window and not kill himself. They fight and there’s not one but two attackers who mysteriously have royal swords. Kell believes that the swords were stolen but I couldn’t help but think that maybe they weren’t, maybe someone in his own palace was trying to set him up but who?

Jackie: Throughout these chapters I kept thinking to myself, It’s a TRAP! 

Image result for falling into my trap gif

Both characters seem to just keep falling into this ongoing set of traps that were set for them, which makes me feel like the parallelism will lead Lila and Kell to meeting each other, maybe? It just feels like one of those movies where you keep facepalming and screaming at the characters for being stupid and making bad choices to keep letting themselves fall deeper into the rabbit’s hole of lies and deceit, until finally it reaches to its climax and...we are left with a kind of cliffhanger, made to think that both characters find a way of escaping from their precarious situations, but this is not proven to us by the end of Part 5 Chapter 4. 

I thought it was interesting as well with Kell that he was so gullible this whole time. He falls into each trap, basically showing the enemy where his secret area in the tavern, and ends up unintentionally showing where his secret collection lies.

I thought the part about the swords being stolen, or even worse, someone in his own palace, was very intriguing. I mean, this could definitely be a possibility, and it seems to be the first attacker may have been under some type of compulsion spell to kill Kell until either he succeeded or died in the process. This reminds me of Vampire Diaries where the vampires can compel others to do something unwillingly as long as they do not have vervain near them or in their system. 

Image result for compulsion gif from vampire diaries

Who would want Kell out of Red London? Especially someone from their own palace? 

I wonder who set this up? Why do they want Kell to be hurt, or killed?

Jeanna: I don’t want to think this. But it goes back to that gift Holland gave Rhy, for strength. It made me wonder if White London was somehow working with Rhy. In turn, Rhy is the only one who knows about Kell’s deals in Red London. Holland is the only one who has shown his power in illegal magic, when he told one of Rhy’s guards to forget everything. Do you think maybe Holland and Rhy are behind this? I really hope not because Rhy and Kell are so close. Why would he want Kell dead?
These chapters give me too many questions and not enough answers.

And what’s up with this magic stone? What does it do? The attackers listen to Kell’s commands when he is holding the stone but otherwise, we really know nothing about it. We don’t even know what triggers the stone to work. Kell knows very little about it. And I just want to know! The suspense of everything in this book is killing me.

Jackie: Yeah, there are so many questions to be asked. I was wondering the same thing about Rhy and Holland. I mean, this could be something that Holland was made to do, which was to give Rhy the gift of strength, to manipulate or compel others to do this bidding, but was Rhy aware of this? I mean, maybe Holland made Rhy do this under compulsion from the twin rulers for all we know. Rhy could be compelled to do these things without even knowing that he is doing them under his own will. 

Yes, the stone also brings up some questions as well since we don’t know how it works, why Kell felt the need to hang onto it for so long, and why it was given to him by that woman just so he could be jumped by someone so they could try and take it from him. The suspense of all this is killing me too, and I feel like soon Schwab will have to start giving us some clues to what is going on with all these open-ended sections. There’s too much unanswered in this book, and we are only at the beginning of it!

Jeanna: I didn't even think that maybe Rhy is being compelled to go through with this set up plan.
And I feel like whatever happens next with Kell could have been easily avoided if he had only quickly jumped back to White London and threw that stone right into the river. Instead, he holds on to it. I mean, he's not that drunk, is he? He knows that whatever he's holding on to is bad news and he is about to pay the price.

Jackie: Yeah, that’s true. Kell should have just left that stupid stone behind...oh well he is inviting TROUBLE with it. That’s on him, he can’t be drunk enough to not realize that, I would hope. I mean he is getting attacked, so he definitely must be a little less drunk and more focused than before.

Jeanna: Yes, he just killed a man so I hope he knows the severity of the situation.

This concludes this week's chapters of the discussion. What did you think?

  • Will Beloc be like Holland - bound by body but not by mind? Do you think the process Beloc endured was similar to that of what Holland had to go through?
  • Even though each tavern in each London is a fixed point, why didn’t the Scorched Bone feel like the others?
  • Why set up Kell with the stone and send him off to be attacked? What was the purpose and meaning behind the rune on the stone? Why can’t Kell come back without being hurt, as Rhy had asked him before he left?
  • Oh Lila, will our Shadow Thief be found out to be a girl? I mean she did run away, so will her secret identity of being a girl be revealed?

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Books on my Spring TBR

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Happy first day of spring. It doesn’t look like spring outside, with feet upon feet of snow out there but we can pretend that we’re basking in the sun, starting our gardening, cleaning out our closets and, of course, picking out a TBR pile for the season. I’m very much a mood reader so I may not get to all the books I hope to get to this spring. However, after finding a love for read-a-thons this month, maybe I’ll be able to finish all of these books and more. One can dream, at least.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Books On My Spring To Be Read List:

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maureen Goo: I just purchased I Believe in a Thing Called Love and this one releases May 8th. From what I’ve heard, Goo’s book reads like a k-drama so I’m unbelievably excited to see for myself! Plus these books with all their feels sounds like spring to me.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater: I read The Raven Boys sometime last spring and really enjoyed it. Immediately after, I went out and bought the completed series and, as most series (why can’t I ever finish series!), it just sits on my shelf unread. I’m hoping to finish the whole series this spring.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh: I adored the Wrath and the Dawn duology and had to get a copy of Flame in the Mist when it first released last year. Unfortunately, it got mixed reviews so I pushed it to the back of my TBR. With the sequel coming out soon, I’m hoping to give this one a go to see if I’m continuing in the series.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll: One of my bookish goals of the new year is to read more classics. I’ve been holding off on reading Heartless by Marissa Meyer until I read the classic, so hopefully I get to this soon!

One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank: I found this a while ago in a bargain bin and since it’s set in Paris, I couldn’t pass it up. Usually, I leave my traveling romances for summer but if I have time, I might move this up on my TBR.

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith: I’ve been making my way through Jennifer E. Smith’s books and they’re just so adorable. I’m not one for road trips but I’m interested to see what Smith brings to the book.

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard: This releases in May. As much as I’m not ready for it because I’m still a bit angry at the last book. Cal, how could you? Of course, it’s on the top of my TBR when I can get a copy.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion: Another bookish goal for this year is to finish more series. I’m hoping to finish the Don Tillman duology as well as several other book series that are sitting on my shelves.

The Fandom by Anna Day: Why isn’t more people talking about this one? It sounds absolutely fantastic! A group of friends go to Comic Con. While there, somehow they are transported into their actual fandom where they accidently kill the main character and try to continue the story as the protagonist themselves. The book releases in April.

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill: The covers for this series are so gorgeous! I’m always trying to read more fantasy—so hopefully, putting this on the list will push me to read this one and several more of the same genre.

What books are you reading this spring?

A Darker Shade of Magic book discussion

Book Discussion: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Week 3)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Welcome to the A Darker Shade of Magic book discussion! We are going to have a blast reading along together. Each week, following the schedule, my friend Jackie and I will recap that particular week’s chapters with hilarious commentary. At the end of each discussion post, there will be a few questions to get the party started. These questions serve as food for thought. All comments related to the book and this week’s chapters are always welcome! Remember: I am giving away a copy of the paperback edition of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (for extra entries, comment below)! Now, let’s get this party started!

This week, we'll be discussing Part 3, Chapters 1 to 3 and Part 4, Chapters 1 to 2. To depict our thoughts in the most coherent way possible (after all, this is a dialogue between friends), my font color will stay black and Jackie's color will be red.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead! This post discusses this week’s chapters of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. If you do not want to be spoiled on what happens in the book, don’t read any further.

Part 3: Chapter 1 

Jeanna: This chapter is rather short. However, we get introduced to a new character. Lila Bard. She’s a pick-pocket in Grey London, stalking the streets at night dressed as a man. She’s quite an interesting character. I just hope the further we go into the story, we learn more about her backstory. As for now, we know very little. What do you make of Lila?

Jackie: As for Lila, I thought her to be very interesting. She adds a very different tone to the story, even in this brief introduction chapter. I thought it was interesting that she finds it thrilling to be faced with the possibility of being caught or found out, as she was talking with a constable who ends up showing her a WANTED poster with Lila’s picture. Lila finds this amusing more than anything, so I think learning more about her will prove to be very intriguing. 

Something that caught my eye as well was when she was carrying around the stolen silver pocket watch engraved with the unknown initials L. L. E. This reminded me of Kell’s knife that has unknown engraved initials. I wonder if there is a connection between these items and the initials… I mean I know Lila stole this pocket watch, so it is a bit different than Kell’s situation, but I’m not so sure that maybe, somehow, these items may be connected to one another…

Jeanna: I love what Lila has brought to the story so far. And you’re entirely correct that she brings a different tone to the story. She has a more positive, if not more twisted, way of looking at things and I really love that. For me, she sort of channeled Jack Sparrow and Flynn Rider a bit in that she’s so confident she isn’t going to be caught and it’s so thrilling to her that she may be caught.

flynn rider nose GIF

A small side note about Schwab’s structure of the book. So, far we’ve read 3 parts of the book and not a lot of books separate chapters into parts. However, I find that I love what Schwab is doing here. In the first part, we got introduced to Kell. The second part shed some light on Rhy and finally, the third part is giving us Lila. It’s really interesting how the story is taking shape.

Now, back to Lila. The initials did remind me of Kell’s knife. It may be just a coincidence. However, it’s interesting how Lila feels a sort of connection with the watch, in that she doesn’t want to let it go. She keeps taking it out of her pocket, hoping it might tell her all its secrets.

Jackie: I’m really enjoying the structure that Schwab has given this book as well. I enjoy reading the chapters in parts because I feel like with each part to the chapter, I get to know more about that character (or characters), as well as get to know more about that particular London section that that/those character(s) are currently in. 

I agree with your ideas about Lila as well, and Lila, although she may prove to be boldly different from the characters we have gotten to know so far, seems to me that she may be the character I’m going to end up loving by the end of the story. I have a feeling that she is somehow going to be an important character in this book. I found it intriguing that Lila did keep taking the watch in and out of her pocket to inspect it, and check to make sure it was there, as a safety blanket of sorts. I’m starting to wonder as well since Kell doesn’t remember his past and why the engraved letters are on his knife, that maybe Lila has some type of similar connection as well to this pocket watch. Did she have a connection with this particular watch at a different point in her life? Is that why she feels so pulled to keep this pocket watch?

Jeanna: If she did have a connection with the watch before now, she doesn’t reveal it. In fact, she doesn’t say much about her past at all. And I think readers can assume that she has been thieving for quite some time. However, there could be a connection with her and the watch that she does not remember. Similar to how Kell cannot remember his past. Was she a victim of a memory loss spell too?

Part 3: Chapter 2

In this chapter, we follow Lila home. And by home, I would have to say she lives in a rather unusual place. But for an aspiring pirate, what other home would anyone expect? She lives on a boat titled the Sea King, owned by Powell (a total loser and drunk). She pays him in coins each month and he supposedly, leaves her be. But not tonight. He comes barging into her room and demanding his payment. And this is when things get heated.

For one thing, Lila mentioned her paying rent in passing so I thought she must have already given her rent that month. I could see Powell bothering her for rent when drunk, even though she had already paid. And that’s what I thought was going down. But she gives him money but it isn’t the amount agreed upon. And Powell isn’t happy about that, demanding her to pay in any way she can. And, just, nope. Not okay. So he got a stab to the chest and Lila got out of there as if she had nothing to do with it. And she burns the whole boat down. When I read that she burned the whole ship down, I thought that was a bit dramatic. Like, yes she wanted to get rid of the evidence. But she could have carried him overboard and gone off on her adventure.

Jackie: So, like you said, this chapter got HEATED, and very quickly might I add. I thought that Powell wasn’t going to go to the lengths of telling her to use ANYTHING to pay him back, including using her body. But, I was dead wrong (see what I did there?). Anyway, I thought that her defending herself was fine, and I mean, after she does stab him and believes him to be dead, I didn’t really think it was too much of her to burn the boat. She was talking about the Sea King as if it was an old boat that had already fared its days at sea. I thought it was somewhat metaphorical for her to burn down the boat since it was called the Sea King, but Lila should have a boat suited for herself, like Sea Queen, or something to that effect. So burning down the Sea King was just an obstacle in her path to becoming a pirate and having her own boat with her own adventures in store. 

Just as a side note, I don’t believe Lila to be evil as this song might suggest, but she reminded me of this song as she indifferently set fire and watched the boat sink.

Jeanna: Lila, for sure, had every right to kill Powell. But, I thought, the act of burning the whole boat down was a bit much. It was a classic action movie stunt, walking away from the object you set fire to. Setting fire to the boat was rather an impulsive action, I thought. Though I didn’t sense much panic in Lila, I don’t think she was thinking about the future. Now, she doesn’t have a place to sleep and it’s the middle of the night. She doesn’t have her disguise on (does she? Besides her man’s clothes) and she’s carrying around her belongings.

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I like that song and I can totally see it playing the background of this scene.

Jackie: I see what you are saying about her being impulsive and dramatic in what she is doing to the boat, but isn’t that the life of a pirate?

That’s what she says she feels most like, and I feel that the pirates I’ve seen in movies like Jack Sparrow, for instance, are anything but predictable. He is constantly performing actions that are spontaneous, dramatic, and are not well thought out. Maybe Schwab wants to show early on that Lila is just living up to her characteristics as a pirate, and that her impulsiveness, rash and maybe bad decisions, and the fight in her are all just revolving around her innate want and soul, which is that of a pirate’s life. I may be wrong, but I thought this scene helped to settle that tone we were talking about before. Out of all of the characters so far, I feel that she is the most settled into her own skin and accepts who she is and who she wants to be. Kell, I feel is slightly haunted by his unknown past as well as some of his abilities that he is capable of, and Rhy wants to be a better person and be more capable than he is (I chose these two characters because I feel that we know them the best out of all the other characters right now in the story). Anyway, I don’t want to keep rambling on, but I just thought these actions were suiting for the stereotypical characteristics of a pirate.

captain hook fandom GIF

Jeanna: Well put! I get what you’re saying and yes, she is acting exactly as a pirate. Ah, I just love a good pirate book. I didn’t know this book would have any pirates but I’m so glad we found Lila. As for her character, I agree with you that she is the most comfortable in her skin. She knows what she wants and for the most part, knows how to make what she wants happen. And I think she will get her pirate adventure before the book ends. That’s for sure.

Part 3: Chapter 3

In chapter 3, Lila walks away from the burning boat with such confidence. She’s going on her adventure. Don’t anyone mess with her. She passes the Stone’s Throw Tavern -- that fixed place just keeps showing up -- and decides to ask Barron for a place to stay. Lila was going to pay with her watch but he doesn’t accept it and lets her have a room, under trust that she will pay him later in coins.

The Stone’s Throw, like Kell has mentioned before, is a constant in all of the Londons. In Lila’s eyes, it is a place that pulls her in like a gravity field. The tavern is significant but in what way? Why does this place have so much power?

Jackie: Yeah, she does walk away with confidence, I can imagine her with her pirate swagger walk as the burning boat is in the background with some hard core music playing (or the music I mentioned for Chapter 2)… 

Anyway, I found it interesting that Barron trusts her to pay back the amount since first of all, I guess they have a history since I remember Lila contemplating what Barron’s reaction may be if she saw him or asked to stay, since the last time did not go so well, as Barron recites the story of their last interaction upon seeing Lila for the first time since then. I guess with certain people that Lila has encountered she has made more of an effort to make some kind of trust form between them. For instance, Lila and Powell did not have much trust, and Powell had too much to drink, since he demands payment of any form right then and there when asking for the money, so I’m assuming Lila had a not so trusting history of payment with Powell. On the other hand, it seems like Lila and Barron have a relative amount of trust in one another since even after Lila went storming away from Barron on their last encounter, Barron still trusts that she will pay him back for renting out a space. 

Along with that, as far as Stone’s Throw Tavern, I’ve been thinking more about the semantics of the name. Stone’s Throw...like a stone’s throw away from home, somewhere anyone can go to feel a sense of belonging among a group of strangers? Somewhere that feels like the comforts of home, some place where the worries of your reality fade away, and you just are able to be whomever you want while inside this tavern? I’m not sure if this plays into it, or if it has more of a magical pull on the characters, but the name is definitely interesting on its own. 

Jeanna: The name of the tavern is interesting but the name itself does not follow into each London. The name does change, whether it’s the Setting Sun or the Scorched Bone tavern. I do like the name: Stone’s Throw Tavern and think it has become a place for people of Grey London to find comfort, however one can in a tavern.

As for Barron and Lila’s relationship, I agree with you. There is a certain trust between the two of them that was not present in Lila and Powell’s relationship. I wouldn’t call them friends exactly but I would call them strong allies. And Barron is probably one of the best allies she has. He is the owner of the Stone’s Throw Tavern. He probably knows a lot of the town’s secrets and rumors, over what he has heard his customers say when the drink loosens their tongues. He probably knows about the best hiding places. And since Kell’s Black Market business stems from the tavern, Barron may not be fully following the law either. It’s a good relationship that will definitely help Lila in some way in the future.

Also, I found it interesting the difference in the relationship Barron has with Lila and the one he has with Kell. Barron barely speaks to Kell and I wonder if this goes back to how people fear/respect him because he’s an Antari.

Jackie: That’s a good point about the names being different among the various London location. I guess we will see why the tavern pulls people in the way that it does. 

That’s an interesting point that you make with Kell and Barron, maybe he doesn’t speak to him as much because Kell is an Antari...I remember Kell saying that him and the bartender just basically say hi to one another, and that’s basically it. He may fear him, or maybe Kell and him don’t really have anything to gain by talking with one another. Now that I think about it, when the characters go into this tavern, each of them is looking for something to gain. Kell is looking to collect and to sell his magical boxes; Lila, I’m guessing a bit here, may be looking to gain the comfort of something that feels familiar to her, or be amongst her own kind as well. 

Jeanna: That’s an interesting thought. I wonder if it will continue further into the story: that whoever comes to the tavern will be looking to gain something. We have already discussed that it is most likely Ned from the first part of the book will return, looking for his bit of Earth. He is essentially looking to gain something.

Part 4: Chapter 1

A new part jumps back to Red London, where Kell is giving Rhy magic lessons. And surprisingly, Rhy doesn’t have much skill in magic at all. He seems to be the best in fire magic but if he loses his concentration, it can get wildly out of hand.

avatar the last airbender GIF

Rhy seems to be one of those people who are difficult to read. He hides behind jabs of sarcasm that one never knows are serious or not. I absolutely love his character! In this chapter, it seems he keeps distracting (not only himself but) Kell in pushing him to go out with him that night. Instead, though, the King comes in and ruins the fun, giving Kell a message to pass along to White London.

Seriously, does Kell ever sleep? He leaves immediately for White London, at nightfall, to deliver his letter.

Jackie: I think, and Rhy mentions this in the chapter but it is not explained to the reader yet, that with whatever Rhy did to Kell some time ago really psychologically messed up Rhy. Rhy mentions that he was working with the fire element, but it got out of hand, and that Kell had maybe been severely hurt, or something like that. I think that because of whatever repercussions that incident had, that Rhy uses sarcasm to hide behind the pain he feels or may have caused to other people. Rather than explaining to the readers what that incident was, it was a passing thought of Rhy’s followed by a sarcastic comment, just like you had mentioned. 

During Kell’s time teaching Rhy, he asks Rhy why Holland had visited the other day, and Rhy just passes it off as delivering a message, but Kell seems to think that there was more to it. Although Kell doesn’t push for a more detailed response, I remember back in the chapter that Holland had visited that he had given Rhy the gift of strength. Obviously, this wasn’t strength in magic since Rhy hasn’t seemed to grown in any type of elemental magic strength when working with Kell. I also remember interpreting the chapter in that Holland may have made Rhy forget some part of his visit to the castle. Now, Rhy may have had lack of details about Holland since he just did not want Kell to know about this “gift,” or he could have really forgotten that Holland had given him strength. I’m not sure which it is, but I’m interested to find out, since we are going to be visiting White London (as the title of this section illustrates), I’m assuming we will be running into Holland (which we eventually will). 

I thought it was such a party pooper moment when the King had Kell go deliver the message to White London. Kell was disappointed too since he wanted that drink with Rhy. Why do dad have to ruin the fun?

saddening titus andromedon GIF by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Also, maybe we should name Kell, the Never Drowsy Kell since I do not think he has slept at all. 

Jeanna: It was only mentioned in passing but something big must have happened in the past to have Rhy react that way to Kell, during the lesson. I wish he had told us what had happened. Rhy freaked when Kell was forced to use his Blood Magic to put Rhy’s fire out. I don’t think it has anything to do with the fire at all. Instead, I think, Rhy must have done something to Kell concerning his Blood Magic. I’m envisioning something along the lines of Rhy trying to practice blood magic-- but when it failed to work on himself, he turned to Kell and maybe Rhy cut Kell or almost bled him out. Maybe. I don’t know, I’m just guessing here. It is interesting that Kell did not seem to register Rhy’s concern. Instead, this event may have happened before Kell was put under the Memory Loss spell. Or maybe it is the exact event that pushed the King and Queen to have Kell lose his memory to keep him in their good graces, or something like that. Maybe.

Anyway, we know Rhy is keeping secrets. Holland comes to his room, unannounced, and he doesn’t tell his best friend about it. That’s a red flag. It could be like you said, that Rhy just doesn’t remember Holland’s actual visit. But I think Rhy is hiding something.

And, no, the gift from Holland must not have been strength in magic. Parrish heard some exchange or rustling of papers, which leads me to think that the gift was something physical, not in magic at all.

Again, we get to see how the King interacts with Kell. And I don’t think it’s very nice. It’s nearing night fall and he wants him to leave right now to deliver a letter to White London. I get it, Kell is the messenger between worlds. But couldn’t this have waited til morning? And how the King just came right in and it just seemed more professional than anything else. When the last chapter, we saw the King and Queen and they seemed to welcome in Kell as family.

Jackie: I agree with you that this incident between Kell and Rhy may have been about Blood Magic. I also agree that this may have been the incident that created the need for the Kell’s forgotten memory, since Kell doesn’t really have a reaction to Rhy’s concern. But, we weren’t told yet what this was, but I have a feeling it’s linked to Kell’s Antari abilities. 

I think Rhy may be hiding secrets too, which is a shame because him and Kell get along so well. Whatever he may be hiding must be bad since Rhy probably thinks that if he tells Kell that either Kell will be mad at him or he will go off to talk or confront Holland, and maybe Rhy doesn’t want that for some reason. 

trust you the vampire diaries GIF

I think that the King’s pushiness may have just been the nature of whatever message that he wanted to send to White London. I think that the Red King and Queen still value Kell and think of him as a second son, I just think that whatever message or information that needed to get to White London was very urgent, so that’s why he was sent at night. What I found more interesting was that Kell seemed to have some reservations about traveling to White London, so this makes me excited and curious to know why Kell, in his own way, expresses a bit of hesitation and fear in traveling to White London. What is there that is so intimidating?

Jeanna: I see where you’re coming from and you’re probably 100% right. I still, also, think the King and Queen see him as family. I just… it’s so hard being the only Antari of Red London.

Whatever are the contents of the letter, which we were not told about either, is probably very important and cannot wait until morning.

And I, too, have some fear and hesitation about traveling to White London. It’s the starving London, which sounds a bit terrifying to begin with. Plus, it’s next to Black London which is even scarier. I’d much rather find my adventures with Lila right now.

Part 4: Chapter 2

Without much fanfare, we are in White London. He seems to take the same route he took to get to his own palace in Red London. I wonder if the palaces are also a fixed point on the map. He takes the path by the river. The city seems devoid of color, everything covered in grays and whites, which may be ash lingering in the air. Kell doesn’t mention much of how White London became to be what it is, just that they were hungry for power, trying to conquer magic.

White London seems to be made of stuff from nightmares. You have bound, robotic guards. And, I don’t know, just reading about it made me shiver.

Holland shows up to guide us into the palace. And Kell mentions learning something about Holland some time ago, a rumor: how Holland is bound to the twin rulers of White London, similar in that of the guards who are robotically bound but not so, in that they do not control his mind. That’s interesting which makes his gift of strength towards Rhy even more fishy than before. Holland does not make personal visits, so whatever he gave Rhy must have been officially from the rulers.

And we meet one of the rulers, Astrid, who immediately felt like a villain to me. The whole of White London was grim and terrifying, I can only imagine what Black London will be like if Kell visits there next.

Jackie: Yeah, I agree with you on all those aspects of White London thus far. Even Kell takes extra caution as he is walking through White London, something that he has not expressed about Red or Grey London. I remember when I was reading about the guards being controlled, I mean even Kell said that is forbidden in Red London, I mean mind control is crazy! Especially since we are aware of this as readers now, as Kell informs us on his walk around White London, like that’s so creepy! Just blank canvases, staring at you and taking orders, that’s all they are capable of at this point...ugh...I’m getting shivers down my spine thinking about it. 

I told you there was something off about Holland giving Rhy a gift!!!! I knew it! Especially now that we know the rulers probably were the ones orchestrating Holland to do whatever it was to Rhy, that makes this even creepier and more dastardly! 

Astrid felt like a villain to me as well. Especially as the reader was being told that the statues may have been real people once, and were those who the rulers has murdered to get to and stay at the top as rulers of White London. Like, that’s pretty messed up. Keeping your killings on display for the whole kingdom to be reminded of, like “this is what you are up against.” Shouldn’t a ruler, or rulers in this case, make you feel safe, and not threatened?

never spring best friends GIF

Jeanna: The reminder of the statues serve as a symbol of their strength. And strength means a lot to people in White London, it is what their whole kingdom is based on. In terms of Rhy’s gift, that must be some significant gift to share strength with the Prince of Red London. It makes me wonder if Rhy is not trying to overthrow his parents or something along the lines. Are Rhy and the White London rulers working together in something?

Anyway, White London is very different from Red London. One thing I found most interesting is that no one has any use of the English language. Red London prides itself on being equal with magic. However, they create ranks in their people by speaking a royal language: English. English is the speech of Kings. That’s incredibly interesting next to White London, a place where people fight to be the strongest, find no use whatsoever in separating the people in that way. This creates an equal standing between the people; everyone, if they please, can have the chance to become King. They do not treat magic in the same light. They’re flaws in both systems and even though White London is absolutely scary, with the right leader, they maybe could turn things around.

Jackie: That’s an interesting thought that Rhy and the White London rulers may be working on something together to overthrow the Red King and Queen. If that is true, then my big concern would be, how does Rhy know he can trust the White London rulers? 

Yes, I found the way that they speak and treat each other in Red London versus White London to be incredible. I mean on one hand, you have Red London that values the spoken word of your worth in nobility and your social status. On the other hand, you have White London, where basically violence, the thirst for power, and pride are what gets you to the top. I think it’s interesting that the author presents both ideas in a way that lets the reader consider the two situations and maybe make predictions at what exactly got each London location to the point that it is at now. I mean, why didn’t Red London fall to the same level as White London, or vice versa? What were the circumstances after the Black London incident that made Red London and White London into what they are now? I’m just intrigued by these unknown questions being posed to us, as readers, and allowing us to use our imagination to guess until we are told the actual background of how each of the Londons got to where they are presently. I mean I hope they give us more background anyway, I’d be interested to know why the people living in each London location have the opinions and uses of magic that they do. They must have faced certain obstacles that drove them to where they are now, and then somehow convinced others to join in on their way of thinking.

Jeanna: There are just so many questions! I also like that Schwab is leaving it rather open-ended for us to assume or believe whatever for now until she reveals what actually happened a bit later. It’s a great way to build her world.

One thing I have noticed is that, just like we suggested, the people of White London are starved for magic. They are greedy for any taste of it. In treating magic as a thing, an item to conquer, they are losing their grasp on it. I think Red London has found the balance with magic which is why they are able to keep using it. They treat magic as an equal, they speak to it and it listens to them.

I hope Schwab, though, begins to answer some of the questions of her world and its history. It will be so exciting how all these characters will come into play.

This concludes this week's chapters of the discussion. What did you think?

  • This week we were introduced to Lila Bard. At what lengths is Lila willing to go to to protect herself and get what she ultimately wants, to become a pirate? Does she have any limits?
  • We are getting to know more about and have more interactions with Stone’s Throw Tavern. Between the characters that we have met, Kell and now Lila have a pull towards this place, but why? Why do you think this particular tavern attracts people of all kinds and pulls them in?
  • What do you think Rhy has done in the past to be so concerned for Kell when he uses his blood magic?
  • Holland is said to be bound to the twin rulers. However, Kell learned this from a storyteller and it could very well be just a rumor. What do you believe? 

book review

Strange, But Beautiful | The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

Friday, March 09, 2018

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: 3/13/18
Pages: 288
Source: given by publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for honest review
The Blackburn women are cursed. Ever since the extraordinary witch Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island centuries ago and was shunned by the eight "original" settlers, Blackburn witches have been doomed to carry out a brief whirlwind affair with a descendant of the Original Eight. The vengeful curse, however, had unintended side effects: it diluted the Blackburns' supernatural powers. That's perfectly all right with seventeen-year-old Nor Blackburn. All she wants is a quiet, unremarkable life—her powers are blissfully unexceptional, her love life pretty much nonexistent. Nor hopes the curse has played itself out through enough generations that she'll finally be spared the drama. But when a mysterious book comes out promising to cast any spell for the right price, Nor senses a dark storm headed straight for Anathema—and straight for her.

In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide's malevolent author—Nor's own mother—looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

Nor comes from a long line of Blackburns, woman who can do unexplainable things. She lives on a small island with her grandmother. When her mother begins selling a price catalogue of magical spells, it is only a matter of time before she returns to the island to torment her family once again. Nor knows these spells her mother is attempting come with a price, a sacrifice. With newfound power, Nor decides to defeat her mother once and for all, to prevent anyone else getting hurt.

  • The prologue is absolutely gorgeous! It opens this unique story in such a mysterious way. The introduction easily takes your breath away. Walton explains the island and some backstory before leading readers into the meat of the story. From the prologue, I came to realize two things. (1) The writing was incredibly gorgeous, almost whimsical. Having never read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, I was pleasantly surprised to find such an enchanting story. (2) This is no cute, little witch story—no sitcom-happy Sabrina the Teenage Witch vibes. The Price Guide to the Occult is a darker witch story than I’ve ever read before.
  • It was such an unique story, almost bordering on strange. 
  • Despite being such a short book, it does pack a punch. The book dives deep into the backgrounds of the witches’ family, the Blackburns. Though there is a protagonist, Nor, I didn't feel like we got to know her at all. The focus seemed to be much more on the family as a whole than the feelings of Nor Blackburn. Since there is no warming up to Nor, the sense of community—of witches and friends—are profoundly more evident. This could have been the author’s intent. However, I would have loved to gotten more juice on Nor’s romance with Reed. Since we were given so little by way of feelings, instead we guess emotions through dialogue which leaves most of Walton’s characters rather flat.
  • The structure of the book is rather disruptive with a lot of dream sequences interrupting the flow of the novel. Also, the passage of time is used so randomly. Walton mentions the time in passing, making readers easily miss it. One minute, it will be three days passed, and the next, five months passed. This creates, not only, confusion to how long it's been but endless questions of what the characters been doing in that length of time. Passing so much time in an only 288-page novel does nothing to help the lack of depth in any of the characters. 
  • With such superb writing, Walton’s action is high-strung by the end of the novel. Readers will certainly be on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what the ending will bring. Walton built readers up for the war to begin and when it finally did, it was like a dam breaking. The Price Guide to the Occult leaves the ending rather open. There may be a sequel to come.
  • Also, there is a trigger warning for self-harm.
Overall, The Price Guide to the Occult started on such a high note but fell flat with lack of depth and character complexity. The writing was incredibly gorgeous, which makes me want to check out her other novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.

A Darker Shade of Magic book discussion

Book Discussion: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab (Week 2)

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Welcome to the A Darker Shade of Magic book discussion! We are going to have a blast reading along together. Each week, following the schedule, my friend Jackie and I will recap that particular week’s chapters with hilarious commentary. At the end of each discussion post, there will be a few questions to get the party started. These questions serve as food for thought. All comments related to the book and this week’s chapters are always welcome! Remember: I am giving away a copy of the paperback edition of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (for extra entries, comment below)! Now, let’s get this party started!

This week, we'll be discussing Part 2, Chapters 1 to 3. To depict our thoughts in the most coherent way possible (after all, this is a dialogue between friends), my font color will stay black and Jackie's color will be red.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead! This post discusses this week’s chapters of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. If you do not want to be spoiled on what happens in the book, don’t read any further.

Part 2: Chapter 1

Jeanna: All in all, this was a rather short chapter that really packs a punch. Readers get to meet Rhy’s private guards, Gen and Parrish. They seem a rather chill bunch, playing cards outside Prince Rhy’s chambers. The big mystery here happens during the end of the chapter when Parrish returns to his post to find Gen gone and someone mysteriously inside the Prince’s bedroom. FINALLY, we get to meet Holland, the other Antari that Kell has mentioned a few times. And first impressions, I can’t say I like him very much. He seems nice enough when speaking to the Prince, giving him a mysterious gift of “strength”... whatever that means. His gift could be anything. But then he comes outside to find Parrish. He gives Parrish a coin and not only does he disappear but he somehow makes Parrish forget he was ever there. What’s your first impression of Holland?

Jackie: Yeah, this Holland character is something else. We have heard his name in passing from time to time, but now we get to see a better snapshot of what he is like. I personally think that Holland has something vicious up his sleeve for Prince Rhy. I mean how can he be doing something good when he makes Parrish forget that he was there?! Also, I think I would not have Parrish as a card partner since he loses a lot apparently...not saying I’m a good player either but still...

Jeanna: I don’t think either guard did very well with the game since both of them cheated, right? However, I don’t think I would partner with Parrish either, especially because he continues to play several rounds and lose because what else is there to do? No, no, it’s not like a guard has to actually be vigilant when watching a Royal’s chamber door.

As for Holland, I didn’t really pick up on his ill intent towards Rhy. I thought him making Parrish forget was because he was found after hours in the Prince’s bedroom. As a private guard, I would think he has to report anything he sees during his shift so if he saw Holland, he would have to report that the Antari had paid the Prince an unauthorized visit. Since he is the Antari from far away, Holland schedules his visits in advance with the royals. This, however, was an unannounced visit which may be cause for alarm but I don’t think he had any ill intent. His main reason for being there was to pass along a gift that he supposedly found in Red London. It makes me wonder what it is which I hope we shall find out soon.

Let’s talk about the scene with Parrish and Holland though. One thing that irks me is that Holland does make Parrish forget he was ever there. In Chapter 3 of Part 2, Kell tells us that such magic used is illegal. Then, what’s Holland doing? Do these Antari think they’re above the law?

playing cards poker GIF by FilmStruck

Jackie: Yeah the guards should be vigilant since it is kind of their job...but hey, why not just totally disregard your position? 

Anyway, that was my point with Holland before, like why make Rhy forget that he was there? For me, that is a red flag since like Kell said, that type of magic is illegal. I thought it was annoying that he made Rhy forget that he gave him this gift, but that made me wonder why, why make him forget? I mean maybe there was no ill intent, but still, why would he not want Rhy, or the guards, and his parents not to know that Holland was there? 

Speaking of the Antari as well, maybe Holland does think that he is just above the law. I mean what types of limitations do the Anatari’s have? I know in Part 1 we were able to see that there was a traveling limitation as Kell moved between locations, but what else are they limited by, if anything? From what we have learned so far, the Antari are the most powerful magical beings in this world, so are they above the other magical beings?

Jeanna: That’s interesting that Holland made Rhy forget but I didn’t read it that way. The only person who I thought Holland made forget was the private guard, Parrish. And possibly Gen but we don’t know for sure since all Holland commented on regarding that was that he sent him away. This could mean that he also made Gen forget the same way he makes Parrish forget and then Gen just walks away from his post, most likely at the persuasion of Holland. I think Rhy is fully conscious of the meeting before, during, and after. As for the the King and Queen knowing of his visit, they may. Holland does mention that he has already visited the King but based on his illegal acts, this may be a lie.

Part 2: Chapter 2

Kell takes a little stroll through the fair that lines the river. And it was all going swimmingly (see what I did there?) until a boy bumps into him. This is the first time we get to see how his hometown treats him. At first, I did think it was because he’s the last of the Antari that he is treated with such celebrity status. However, I think that may only be part of it. Surely, people in Grey London are aware of his Antari-ness. And they certainly do not bow at his feet and shake in fear. I think it’s mostly because of his relationship with the King and Queen, as if he was their adopted son. The townspeople give him the royal welcome - he is the second Prince.

Jackie: Hmmmm...interesting that you saw it as celebrity status...I saw it more as they were aware of his presence but also fearful of the power he represented. The way that the boy ran behind his mother (I’m assuming this was the woman he ran behind) and was cowering behind her. Then the woman was practically fainting as she looked at Kell and realized who he was when she looked him in the face. I mean I’m thinking that this is more of a fear-driven fascination with Kell and the Antari. I mean something had to have happened with the Antari to have this devastating awe effect on the civilians. I think it’s interesting that Antari have that effect on the townspeople and it really makes me wonder if they are in awe because of how powerful they are, or if they did something to earn them that recognition from the local folk.

puss in boots hello GIF

Jeanna: Interesting. I wonder what sort of effect Holland would have on the townsfolk or would they abandon the fair and run for their homes. As you said before, the Antari seem to be the most powerful people of all magic folk. Even though the people of Red London have magic, the Antari are still above them, being so much more powerful - with even just going back and forth between worlds. The people know this and must treat him accordingly.

I do wonder if the Antari did something to give them that kind of response from the townspeople: did they do something good or do something bad? That’s the question.

Part 2: Chapter 3

Kell finally makes it “home.” Before hunkering down to sleep, he makes a quick visit to the King and Queen. He passes a letter along but it’s not read so that’s still a mystery. The most surprising about this scene is that Kell is pushed to call the Queen “Mother” which is not a relationship I was expecting. As an Antari, it is sort of his job to play messenger between worlds and I thought that is what he was. He was working for the royals of Red London but then we get with “I’m back, Mom.” which changes lots of things.

Kell has living quarters in the palace and seems to be a sort of second son to the King and Queen. And if I may be so bold as to say a better son -- at least, a more mature or easier one to “control/handle”. And if it were me, there would be definite jealousy but I did not detect any with Rhy. In fact, they seemed to be best of friends.

Jackie: Oh, yeah that line about the Queen being his mother threw me off for a second, but as I thought about it and read on in the chapter, I realized that they are not blood son and mother, but instead they treat Kell as a son. 

Oh man, Jeanna, what a dig at Rhy being the lesser son, oh! But anyway, I think Rhy is a pretty cool son, I mean who doesn’t want a whole birthday week, or month? That sounds reasonable to me especially since he is royalty. I enjoy the fact that he isn’t as easy as Kell seems to be, I mean I think that they seem to cause trouble together and have a good time. The guards also mention that they enjoy walking the town with Rhy and Kell and that the two enjoy spending time together. 

As far as that mystery note, I was wondering the same thing! What does the note say? Why was this kept a secret from the reader? I mean they don’t even mention it again, so it was easy to skim over if you weren’t paying close enough attention. This gives me the need to want to know why they were making this a secret note. Hmpf….

Jeanna: Oh, I have nothing against Rhy, of course not. I think he’s an adorable cupcake so far. Plus, I always pull the birthday card for at least a month so we have that in common.

I only wanted to point that out because it gives him motive. In this chapter, we find out that Rhy knows about Kell’s Black Market affairs which could get Kell into some deep trouble if the King or Queen found out. Yet, Rhy hasn’t told. And, why not? The easy answer is that they’re friends, of course he wouldn’t tell. However, it seems that Kell has been trading for quite a long time and Rhy has already given him numerous warnings. And despite Rhy’s warning, I don’t think Kell is going to stop trading. So, how will this turn out? Will Kell, by continuing his illegal efforts, force Rhy to test his hand?

smell mums the word GIF

And then came the interesting question of why Kell trades at all. This is where we learn that he, in fact, is more than just a messenger but a second son, a brother. He has a place at the palace and here Kell is, trading on the Black Market. It is something that Rhy can’t quite understand. However, that is a part of Kell that I don’t even think Kell himself understands.

Jackie: Since you bring that nice little fact up of Kell being a trader for the Black Market, I recall that in this chapter that Kell refers to himself as a Collector of sorts since he has acquired these trinkets and things from people in his time selling and trading on the Black Market.

I really do believe that Kell was a Collector in the “life I can’t remember.” He goes on to mention and ask questions about this life he does not remember. The scar on his elbow that he has is a spell to make you forget. His knife has the initials K.L., initials from a place or time that he does not remember. To me, this just seems so interesting with this mystery surrounding Kell’s past and why there was a choice to remove his memories. Maybe this has to do with the history behind Black London, or from something the the Antari may have done in the past. 

That also begs the question, whose decision was it for Kell to lose his memory? Did Kell have something so bad happen or did something horrific he chose to impose the spell on himself? Or, on the other hand, did the King and Queen only have Kell living with them as their “second son” because he agreed to let them wipe his memories? SO many questions, so much more to read!

Jeanna: Kell, now, to be a Collector is his way to fit in. He has mentioned time and time again that he feels more like a possession than family. As one of the only remaining Antari, Kell feels constantly like he is being used. He collects these many trinkets because they are like him. They are put on display, they make music, they do tricks, they perform. These trinkets remind him of himself which is why he finds solace in other like-objects. He doesn’t stay in the palace, he feels most comfortable in his collection room above a pub.

His memory loss leaves lots of questions. Also, the timeline seems strange at this point. Does he remember coming to the palace at 5 years old or was he told that he was brought at 5 to the palace? He noticed the scar on his elbow, the rune to make one forget, at 12 years old. I, also, thought that it could be a Jason Bourne situation where he was in on this plan to erase his memory. But for what? And I’m sure the King and Queen know and yet, they refuse to discuss it further with him. Like, what?!

It may have something to do with the Antari but than Holland wouldn’t remember something either - I would think. However, here is something the two differ: Kell does not know much about this memory loss spell, yet Holland is going around and making the guards forget. What are they teaching in White London that they aren’t teaching in Red London about magic?

matt damon jason x marie GIF

Jackie: Yeah, I agree with you about the Collector “fitting in” and timeline issue as well. It makes sense that he wants to fit in, so this is Kell’s way of doing it, but I just have a feeling it may be a bit more and may be a clue into his past. As far as the timeline, yeah I mean he could have just been told that information about him being at the castle since he was 5, and the rune to forget at 12 years old. I think he was in on that situation but maybe just whatever it was, never wanted to remember. Maybe Holland was the one that did it to Kell since he is making everyone else forget their memory? I wish we could know more about what happened…

Maybe in White London they value the forgetting spells so they don’t remember how much hunger they have, and in Red London they want more people to forget about their connection to magic, so they have more people forgetting in Red London. I could be way off, but it’s a thought.

Jeanna: There is something foul at work here. And we better find out.

That’s an interesting notion about White London wanting to forget their hunger. And since we know very little so far about what makes an Antari, I’m going to just throw it out there that maybe there are tons of Antari but none of them remember being one, or the spells, or how to hone their magic because this rune was used on them too. Because obviously someone must have taught Kell, he must have read books about his gifts. However, not everyone has a library full of magic books. Maybe the memory rune is no longer found in books because it was used as a war tactic to remove the Antari as a threat. Just a thought.

This concludes this week's chapters of the discussion. What did you think?

  • Do you think- if pushed too far - Rhy would turn Kell in for trading in different Londons?
  • How did Kell lose his memory - was the spell self-inflicted or did someone not want him to remember?
  • What is up with these coins? I mean now Holland gave one to Parrish, and now he doesn’t remember what Holland was doing there? Could this be why the King from Grey London likes the coins from Kell, is this a way for him to forget? 
  • What is the true rep of the Antari? On the street when he ran into the boy, the crowd around him was in a desolate awe of just the sight of Kell. What did the Antari do to make them so feared?
  • What do you think Holland meant by giving Rhy a gift of “strength?”